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Grand Forks man sentenced for harassing deer

GRAND FORKS - A Grand Forks man has lost his hunting privileges for two years and must pay $250 in restitution after a photo on the Internet showed him kneeling beside a live deer with a snowmobile atop the animal's body.

Steven Bonderud, 21, also received a 10-day suspended jail sentence and was ordered to pay $225 in court costs for harassing wildlife. The court placed him on one year of unsupervised probation.

Bonderud was cited March 5 after Gary Rankin, a warden for the Game and Fish Department in Larimore, N.D., received an anonymous tip about the photo, which appeared on Bonderud's private Facebook site.

A person connected with the Game and Fish Department later gained access to the photo on the site.

During an interview with Rankin, Bonderud told the warden he had hit the deer while riding snowmobile near Manvel, N.D., court records show. He said the deer had suffered a broken leg and that he circled back about 25 yards off the trail before running his snowmobile onto the animal.

According to an incident report, Bonderud said he'd tried to kill the deer to end its suffering but the animal got away and walked into some trees. While investigating the claim, Rankin reported he couldn't find any evidence of the incident Bonderud described.

Rankin also interviewed a couple of other snowmobilers who were with Bonderud on the ride. One, who was leading the pack, said he didn't see the deer incident but another admitted he and Bonderud had run over rabbits on the trail, as well.

Bonderud also admitted he'd run over a rabbit, court records show, telling Rankin he didn't want to slow down and risk being thrown from the snowmobile.

Harassing wildlife with a motor vehicle is a Class B misdemeanor.